This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
nicky!’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Ari Aster's form of horror is effectively distressing but ultimately not very clever. making your audience stressed out by having a bunch of women scream and chant and cry and flail en masse is cheap. taking your gore effects and cutting to them over and over again is cheap. playing loud ominous music over everything remotely creepy is cheap. much like Hereditary, this is pure theatre cinema: where the sense of unease created only lasts for the duration of the film and dissipates the instant you step outside and have a second to think about any of it. Ari also seems to have no faith in his audience: how many times are we shown tapestries and paintings of rituals that were obviously hints at what was to come? how long did the camera linger on that pink cup before the eventual zooooom in? "omg is that a pube" we get it, dude. the foreshadowing is so heavy handed I spent a good chunk of the film just waiting for shit I knew was coming. that's not 'building tension', it's just tedious. why set your movie in a place with perpetual daylight if you're barely going to use it? artificially darkening certain scenes and conveniently having creepy stuff happen in the two hours of night they get? why is Josh (the only character with any real motivation to be here) so underutilized as a character? was the breakup angle really that much more interesting? "i keep saying i wanted this film to be confusing" fuck off. this new trend of pretentious art horror that requires an accompanying Vox article to help you fully comprehend the genius (read: easter eggs, trivia and extremely unsubtle metaphors) is tiresome as shit.
it isn't all bad: the one gore effect is quite good, it's just a shame he reduced it to something to repeatedly flash back to for shock value. the production design is cool and the directing is fine, when he's not being a film theory tryhard. I appreciated the lack of bullshit supernatural elements this time and the consistency of the narrative (unlike Hereditary's half fucked up drama half horror plot structure). and for all I disliked about its horror elements I'm glad it wasn't really as simple as 'its about a breakup uwu' - the progression of Dani's character and her learning to process her trauma openly rather than sequestering her emotions for the comfort of toxic people around her was a somewhat interesting theme, if only because her doing so with the help of a murderous cult has some weird implications. for the most part though: disappointing, cheap, and not nearly as smart as it thinks it is